CANDIDATE STATEMENT: "VACANCY OF BRADFORD" CONCESSION
Following the news services' call of the "Vacancy of Bradford" Metropolitan Water Reclamation District election, I have reached out to my opponent on the ballot, M. Cameron "Cam" Davis, to congratulate him on his victory.
It has been a pleasure and a privilege to run on a ballot line with as qualified and capable a candidate as Cam Davis. "Opponent" is a misleading term in this race -- while we pursued different party's nominations, both of us have clearly sought needed improvements at the MWRD, and I look forward to seeing Cam's work on the Board of Commissioners.
In recent months, Cam Davis and I were named co-defendants in a legal challenge over our right to be on the ballot, and I was pleased to see the courts uphold the right of voters to choose their preferred candidate, rather than to have a gubernatorial appointee serve for two more years. I hope that many more Cook County elections see voters given a similar choice between two (or more!) qualified, dedicated office-seekers.
The issues that the Greens for MWRD campaign raised over the course of this cycle -- responsible use of MWRD land, third-stage disinfecting treatment at MWRD wastewater plants, climate change readiness as part of the MWRD mission, and an end to campaign contributions from MWRD contractors -- are issues that the Green Party will continue to press for in future MWRD election cycles, and I sincerely hope and believe Cam Davis can be a leader within his own party on those same issues.
To all my supporters and voters this year: from the bottom of my heart, thank you. We have shown that a grassroots, small-dollar campaign can exceed all expectations, and I firmly believe that we can organize and grow to become an even more formidable force by 2020.
Greens for MWRD, "Vacancy of Bradford" Candidate
STATEMENT: GREENS FOR MWRD OPPOSE PRIVATE EASEMENT ON MWRD LAND
The Greens for MWRD campaign and candidates oppose the Keefe Family Trust's request for a private easement on MWRD land along the North Shore channel.
The request, which would allow for the clearance of wetlands and forest to build an access road for a private development project, was first proposed as a permanent road administrated by the Cook County Department of Transportation in 2017. It has since been proposed as an easement for a temporary access road.
The parcel in question, which is currently leased to the Wilmette Park District, features walking trails, trees and smaller plant growth, and part of the nonprofit Canal Shores golf course.
Canal Shores golf course & parkland, viewed from across the North Shore Channel
The position of the Green Party is that taxpayer-owned MWRD land should be used for wastewater treatment and flood abatement purposes only. Destroying flood-absorbing green spaces in order to create private development access roads runs entirely counter to the District's public mission.
"The unfortunate reality is that right now substantial parcels of taxpayer-owned land are being leased to private, industrial clients who actually pollute our waterways," said Geoffrey Cubbage, one of five Green Party candidates for the MWRD Board of Commissioners. "This is just one more request to pave over flood-abating green spaces for the benefit of the well-connected. It should be rejected."
Cubbage added, "There is a real environmental justice component to MWRD land use. Nearly all the MWRD land that's rented out along the North Shore Channel is thankfully used for parks and similar public green spaces, and that use should be protected. On the South and West sides, however, many MWRD parcels are occupied by heavy industry and privately-owned businesses."
The Illinois Green Party is the only opposition party running a full slate of candidates in the November 2018 MWRD election. The candidates and their ballot numbers are:
Christopher Anthony (6-year term) - Ballot #56
Karen Roothaan (6-year term) - Ballot #57
Tammie Vinson (6-year term) - Ballot #58
Rachel Wales (unexpired 2-year) - Ballot #60
Geoffrey Cubbage ("Bradford Vacancy" unexpired 2-year term) - Ballot #62
For more information, contact Greens for MWRD at [email protected], or call 773-809-4547.
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If you live in Cook County, there's an elected office on your ballot every two years that you may not have heard of, but that oversees a tremendous amount of taxpayer money: Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD).
The MWRD is a taxpayer-funded agency with an annual budget of over a billion dollars that's responsible for wastewater treatment, flood prevention, and water quality testing in Cook County. The agency is overseen by an elected, nine-member Board of Commissioners—and under the current Commissioners, the agency's record is one of political corruption, misspent tax dollars, and serious water quality concerns.
This year, there's an exciting slate of five Green candidates running for the five MWRD Commissioner seats on the 2018 ballot:
- Christopher Anthony - Ballot #56
- Karen Roothaan - Ballot #57
- Tammie Vinson - Ballot #58
- Rachel Wales - Ballot #60
- Geoffrey Cubbage - Ballot #62
Read on to find out more about the agency's recent history, and why you should be voting Green for MWRD this November!
Kirie Water Reclamation Plant, one of the district's seven wastewater treatment facilities.
1. It's Time for a Change
Every Commissioner elected to the MWRD for the last twenty-plus years has come from the Cook County Democrats.
That's led to stagnation and rubber-stamping on what's supposed to be a deliberative, nine-member board. Instead of discussing and debating measures, the Board of Commissioners votes in unison to approve more than 99% of the measures before it.
There are serious, complicated decisions to be made about Chicago's wastewater and flood management infrastructure. Taxpayers deserve a Board of Commissioners that will seriously consider costs and benefits to MWRD projects and spending, not just hand out contracts to well-connected friends and businesses.
In a normal election cycle, voters select three members for the nine-member Board of Commissioners—but due to vacancies, five of the nine seats will be on the ballot in 2018. That gives Cook County voters the chance to elect a whole new majority, all on one ballot!
2. The MWRD is Failing Its Core Missions
The mandate for the MWRD is a specific one: the agency is responsible for treating Cook County's wastewater, managing and abating floods, and testing the Chicago Area Waterway System for harmful chemicals. The current Commissioners are coming up short on all three critical areas:
- On wastewater management, we lag behind most other major metropolitan areas. Only two of the seven MWRD treatment plants use what's called a tertiary disinfecting treatment—an industry-standard step to fully clean liquid discharge before it leaves the plant. Much of the Chicago Area Waterway System, especially on the South and West sides, is so polluted that the water is not safe for human contact.
- On flooding, the MWRD relies on the Deep Tunnel system to keep sewers from filling up and overflowing into the waterways (or into streets and basements, and in extreme cases into Lake Michigan, the source of our drinking water). It's not working. The Chicago Tribune examined MWRD records in 2017 and found that, on average, our sewers are overflowing and dumping untreated waste into Cook County waterways once every six days.
- And on waterway testing, MWRD data from the previous two decades regularly shows levels of lead well above EPA/WHO action levels flowing downstream, but there's no evidence that the reports ever prompted any kind of action or attempt to contact municipal water services about the possibility of contamination from lead pipes. What should have been a "canary in a coal mine" got buried in PDF data tables and ignored. The MWRD is also slow to report water quality data—the latest publicly-available annual water quality report is from 2015.
With a record of failure on all three of the agency's core mission, neither the incumbents nor their party should be given unilateral control of the MWRD for yet another term.
Calumet Water Reclamation Plant, the oldest of the MWRD's seven wastewater treatment facilities.Read more
MWRD COMMISSIONER DOUBLES DOWN ON DONATION FALSEHOOD
Incumbent Democrat claims to follow Cook County campaign contribution limits; has violated them nearly 50 times.
In a candidate questionnaire made public Sunday, responding to a question about campaign contributions from entities that receive Metropolitan Water Reclamation District contracts, incumbent MWRD Commissioner Debra Shore told the Chicago Sun-Times "I have sought to impose as my own standard the same limits on contributions from companies doing business with the MWRD that members of the Cook County Board follow."
It's the same claim Shore, a Democrat, made in a March 2018 Daily Herald article on the appearance of pay-to-play politics at the wastewater management agency. There's one problem: the claim wasn't true in March, and it's become even less true since.
Shore's campaign committee has taken donations in excess of the limits she claims nearly 50 times, including multiple donations since the 2018 primaries.
Donations to candidates for Cook County Board from "entities doing business or seeking to do business" with the government are limited to $750 in the primary cycle and another $750 in the general election cycle.
Since the 2018 primaries, the Friends of Debra Shore campaign committee has taken $1000 from Christopher Burke Engineering and $2500 from Greeley & Hansen, both recipients of multiple MWRD contracts.
In prior cycles, the campaign committee had taken donations in excess of the Cook County contribution limits on "entities doing business or seeking to do business" at least 45 times, as detailed in earlier research done by the Illinois Green Party.Read more
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 30
Greens for MWRD
Contact: 773-809-4547 or [email protected]
Statement: Explosion & Collapse at Calumet Water Reclamation Plant
Green Party candidates for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago Board of Commissioners have been made aware of the explosion and structural collapse at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant's sludge concentration building.
We are extremely relieved to hear reports that all people on-site have been rescued from the area, and we are deeply grateful to Chicago's emergency services and first responders for their handling of the crisis. Our sympathies are with those injured during the explosion and its aftermath.
Currently, preliminary investigations suggest a methane explosion. Reports from local residents of a strong methane smell in the days prior to the explosion raise concerns about the department's responsiveness to potential hazards.
The Calumet plant is one of only two MWRD treatment plants (out of seven total) that applies a third-stage disinfecting treatment to its outflow. With recent heavy rains and more expected over the weekend, its continuing function is a critical part of Cook County's wastewater management.
As we wait for further information, we hope that, unlike in the recent case of Executive Director David St. Pierre's departure following an undisclosed investigation, MWRD leadership will be prompt and transparent in providing the full details of the incident and the Calumet plant's capacities to the public.
For more information, contact Greens for MWRD at [email protected], or call 773-809-4547. The Green Party candidates on the November 6th ballot will be: Chris Anthony, Karen Roothaan, and Tammie Vinson for full, six-year terms, and Rachel Wales and Geoffrey Cubbage to fill two partial, two-year vacancies.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, JULY 13
Greens for MWRD
Water Reclamation District Director Resigns with "Gag Order"; Green Party Candidates Call for Transparency and Accountability
MWRD head departs following outside investigation—with a $95,000 severance package and a non-defamation clause.
CHICAGO—David St. Pierre, the Executive Director of Chicago's Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), resigned effective June 27th, taking with him $95,000 plus benefits in a severance package first reported by the Better Government Association in the Chicago Sun-Times.
The MWRD, a taxpayer-funded agency responsible for flood prevention and wastewater management, did not provide a reason for St. Pierre's departure in its press release. St. Pierre had been the subject of an investigation led by an outside law firm, but MWRD Commissioner Debra Shore told the Sun-Times that "a non-disparagement clause in the separation agreement with St. Pierre" prevented her from discussing the probe.
Green Party candidates for the MWRD Board of Commissioners, the nine-member body that oversees the District and its $1.2 billion budget, quickly called for more openness and transparency, tying the mysterious departure to other recent ethical lapses at the District.Read more
IT'S THE FINAL PUSH TO PUT A FIVE-CANDIDATE SLATE ON THE BALLOT!
Over the past three months, the Illinois Green Party has been fighting for the most fundamental of democratic rights: the opportunity for candidates to run for elected office.
We've been opposed at every step by Chicago's corrupt system -- the same system that elected Greens would work hard to reform.
Now, Memorial Day weekend is our final chance to gather a pile of ballot access petitions that will withstand any challenge, putting a fifth Green Party candidate on the slate for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. Can you join us at one or more of our events?
Saturday, May 26th, 10:30am - Memorial Day Parade petitioning downtown! Meet up at Daley Plaza to get the early crowd, after which we'll spread out along the parade route.
Sunday, May 27th, 2:00pm - Neighborhood canvass in Rogers Park! This will be a door-to-door day of talking with the candidate's neighbors, meaning very friendly turf. We will be asking for signatures as well as passing out literature.
Monday, May 28th, 8:30am - Arlington Heights Memorial Day Parade petitioning! (Right off the Metra stop, or let us know if you need a lift out there from the city.)
- Monday, May 28th, 8:30am - River Forest Memorial Day Parade petitioning! (Meet at Constitution Park in River Forest.)
We'll have petitioning supplies -- all you need to bring is your smiling face and weather-appropriate clothing!
Please RSVP at the linked event pages, or email [email protected] to let us know you're coming! An accurate count helps us prepare the right amount of materials.
An interview with candidate Geoffrey Cubbage, filmed on March 17th, aired this weekend on CAN-TV. The full video is available on YouTube:
You know you're doing something right when they're fighting you as hard as the Chicago machine is fighting us!
Since mid-January 2018, Democrat-controlled election authorities in Chicago and Cook County have:
- Announced a snap primary to fill a vacancy on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District by write-in-vote only—less than a week before the filing deadline for write-in candidates.
- Refused to hold a Green Party primary in the City of Chicago—meaning no ballots, meaning no place for voters to write in the name of the Green Party candidate.
- Held a primary in suburban Cook County in which voters at dozens of polling places were falsely told that there was no option to vote Green, and that the only options were Democrat and Republican—once again denying voters a place to write in the name of the Green party candidate.
It's an incredible amount of effort to expend defending a single seat on a waste treatment agency's Board of Commissioners from any ballot-listed challengers, and it made it impossible for the Green Party to secure the needed number of write-in votes for the fifth seat (called the "Vacancy of Bradford" seat) in the March primary.
The good news: five seats are still in play on the nine-member Board of Commissioners!
The Green Party may still place its nominee, Geoffrey Cubbage, on the November ballot by filing a "vacancy of nomination" petition. But to do it, we'll need to submit petitions signed by over 3,000 Cook County voters, by June 3rd of this year.
Can you help us make this a contested election? Republicans never filed a candidate for the "Vacancy of Bradford" nomination, so the Green Party is the only party positioned to challenge all five Board of Commissioner seats this year.
Here's how you can help out:
Sign up to circulate petitions on our Volunteer page! (Or, if you prefer, just email [email protected] and let us know you want to be involved.) You can download the petition sheets and the petitioner's guide and start gathering signatures right away, or we can bring a clipboard and printed materials out to you if needed. Even just a few sheets signed by friends and family helps!
Spread the word on social media! Share this post (Facebook link - Twitter link), and tell your friends that you're fighting for one of the most basic democratic rights in the world: the ability to have a choice between candidates when you go to the voting booth.
- Donate to the campaign! We take no corporate donations, so individual, small-dollar contributions are the only thing keeping us going. (Did you know that, on average, each petition signature ends up costing roughly a dollar, even with volunteer circulators, due to printing, supply, and filing-related costs? That means if we raise just $3000, we should easily be able to make our goal!)
This is a critical opportunity to directly challenge one of Chicago's most corrupt institutions—but only if we collect the needed signatures, putting five Greens on the ballot for five seats!
2018 is an exciting year in the normally low-profile Metropolitan Water Reclamation District election: due to a pair of vacancies, five of the nine Commissioner seats—a controlling majority—will be on voters' ballots in November.
Because no candidate in the Green Party primary received 1,720 write-in votes in the write-in-only "Vacancy of Bradford" election for the fifth ballot line, the party now has what is referred to as a "vacancy in nomination," which can be filled by an appointee of the Green Party who gathers the required number of ballot signatures.
The Green Party has named Geoffrey Cubbage, who was a registered write-in candidate for the "Vacancy of Bradford" election, to fill the vacancy in nomination. Geoffrey Cubbage will now need to gather 1,720 ballot access petition signatures from voters within the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (which is roughly contiguous with Cook County, although a handful of municipalities lie outside its service area).
The Greens for MWRD campaign is also accepting donations for the petition drive! We take no corporate donations, only individual contributions, and funds are spent on campaign materials or in-house labor, never on private consultants or corporate advertising.